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164                                   FLORA INDIC4.
mously elevated snow-clad masses of the Himalaya, and the
suddenness with which they rise out of the plain.
During the rainy season, when the wind blows from the
south, and arrives saturated with moistuvfi at the base of the
mountains, a sudden condensation at once takes place; and
the distance from the sea is so small, that the effect of the
cooling is nearly uniform over the whole area, and does not
diminish rapidly as we recede from the mountains, as in the
upper provinces. During the remainder of the year, when
land winds prevail, the humidity of the atmosphere must be
mainly due,. as has already been observed (at p. 80), to an
upper return current, which is stopped by the high wall of the
Himalaya, and, being cooled, sinks towards the earth, and is
carried back towards the sea along with the normal current,
which descends along the course of the Ganges and Brahma-
putra; In support of this explanation, it may be noticed that
a belt of equable climate, gradually narrowing as we advance
westward, skirts the base of the Himalaya, the summers of
the Tcrai and Himalayan valleys being less hot, and the win-
ters moistcr and less cold than those of the open plain.
The rain-fall in Bengal varies from sixty to cue hundred
inches. It is least in the north-western part of the province,
and greatest on the eastern sea-coast, near the mouth of the
Megna. The mean temperature of Calcutta is 78, which may
be considered as that of the whole area.
The province of Bengal is celebrated for its fertility, and
is for the most part under cultivation. The surface is peren-
nially green, and the villages are usually buried among lofty
trees; Bajnboos, Figs, Mangoes, and various Palms occupying
a conspicuous place. The Palms arc chiefly Cocoa and Betel-
nut, Phoenix, Borasyw, and, near the sea, Coiy/pka. The
two first may be considered the most characteristic cultivated
plants, as they are intolerant of eold and do not extend into
the drier provinces. Two Hpccies of, Rattan (Calamw Rox-
barghii &\\A/wriculari*) arc common throughout Bengal, and
a third (C. Mtwtwwunu*)9 which is* common in Silhct and